Tony Gonzalez: PFHOF Class of 2019

Wanda Wiedman,
NFL Reporter

by Wanda Wiedman // @WandaW63

The tight end position will be well represented with the induction of Tony Gonzalez. Ranked among the best, he joins only nine other tight ends in the hall and the only one as a first-time ballot.

Gonzalez follows such NFL greats as Davis Gasper, Mike Ditka, John Mackey, Ozzie Newsome, Charlie Sanders, Shannon Sharpe, Jackie Smith, and Kellen Winslow.

He is only the second Hall of Famer to attend the University of California, Berkeley, the other being Les Richter.  He competed in two sports, football and basketball at Berkeley and the combination of skills showed on the field with amazing results.

Drafted 13th overall by the Kansas City Chiefs in 1997, Gonzalez becomes the fourth member of that draft class to be inducted in the PFHOF joining Orlando Pace, (first overall) Walter Jones, (sixth overall) and Jason Taylor (73rd overall).

In one of his first interviews he was quoted as saying: “He (God) blessed me…He gave me my heart, my determination, and my leadership. That’s why I’m going to make it in the NFL.”

It is safe to say that Gonzalez “made it” in the NFL. He played for two teams, the Kansas City Chiefs (1997-2008) and the Atlanta Falcons (2009-2013). Gonzalez was built to play the TE position describing it as one of the hardest positions to play. The position calls for the skill set of a wide receiver and the strength of an offensive lineman, a very difficult balance at times.

But for Gonzalez he made it work as he currently holds several  NFL records including the second-most career receptions with 1,325, the fifth most career receiving yards with 15,127. He closed his career with 111 touchdowns.

Other than his rookie year, Gonzalez never caught anything less than 59 passes in a season and surpassed 80 catches, eight times. He led the NFL in receptions in 2004 with a career-high 102 catches and reached over 1000 yards at least four times in his career. 

All the stats in the world still do not describe what he meant to the game of football and the position of tight end. His catches were flawless with the softest hands in the league. Gonzalez’s ability to catch on the run seemed effortless and his sticking hands are that of legends.

Former Atlanta Falcons Head coach Mike Smith described him this way: “The skillset that Tony Gonzalez has is the standard that most teams are looking for in a tight end.”

If a team had a game plan to stop Gonzalez, it didn’t work. He was just that good. If he was doubled team, Gonzalez would just tell his quarterback to put it high. His belief in his own ability to catch the ball was in a class all his own. As a matter of fact, he played football as if he was playing the game of basketball.

To Gonzalez, the goal was to get the ball and score and it didn’t matter that the ball was shaped differently. The game of football and basketball was intertwined in his mind and it shaped his game.

Gonzalez played in 270 regular-season games and missed just one game during his entire 17 season career.  He was voted to 14 Pro Bowls, 6 First Team All-Pro, the NFL 2000s, and All-Decade Team. Unfortunately, he was never able to achieve the thrill of participating in a Super Bowl.

But way before Gronk was a household name there was Tony Gonzalez. Only the best of the best get the privilege of becoming enshrined among the greatest athletes of the gridiron. Forever, cast in bronze for the world to see will be Tony Gonzalez and the legacy he left behind.

Congratulations Tony! You made it all the way to the top.

Talk Bears with Wanda on Twitter // @WandaW63 

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